Merridith Frediani describes the daily stress of her grief over a close friend's immiment death.
It’s a heavy load, grief. And it shifts around. It doesn't stay put on my shoulders where I can control it. It wobbles around, causing me to reassess how I carry it. Sometimes it almost goes away -- usually when I’m asleep. But then when the morning comes and I get my wits back, I remember why I have this sludge in my heart. Grief.
It crawls back into my day and proceeds to wiggle around unpleasantly. I thought that if I ignored it, it would leave me alone but it found other ways to bother me. I decided to embrace it -- to feel the feelings. I went to Adoration, mentally prepared. This is the time, I thought, in the safety of Jesus’ presence, where I can let the feelings roam freely. But grief is wily and the feelings stayed put. They lay low just below the surface, peeking out, causing my eyes to tear up at unfortunate moments such as in a work meeting when my co-workers who love me are listening while I pre-apologize for whatever snottiness erupts out of me, or in a restaurant with my husband and son as I mention how hard the funeral is going to be and that I’m glad all the kids will be home from their far-flung semesters.
It’s been four months since my friend received his cancer diagnosis. I’ve never lost someone close before. We are in the daily wait right now. Every time my phone buzzes I wonder if this is it. Is it his wife letting us know that he passed? In addition to the weight of the grief is the low-level daily stress. The whole thing is surreal. Just six months ago we were sitting around a fire pit, giving out candy to trick-or-treaters, and laughing. Oh, the laughing. It’s the kind where my eyes water and I have to bend over so I can breathe. It’s the laughing I’ll really miss and the way he can send me into hysterics with just a look and a twinkle in his eye.
There’s so much more to miss as well and I realized I’m not just grieving those things but all the things that won’t happen. It’s the sadness of plans that won’t come to fruition -- big plans like trips to Africa and Ireland and little plans like backyard cookouts after lazing in the pool sipping IPAs. There’s just so much that was supposed to happen and now isn’t going to.
My Catholic faith consoles me because I believe he is going to be with Jesus soon and that is what we are all here for. In some ways I envy him because the world has gotten really messed up and he gets to go where all is good with God. I also believe that about three minutes after he gets there he will be greeting us since there is no time in heaven. I’m hoping he’s there with a boombox blasting Toto’s "Africa," the song we always play when we are together.
So for him, I feel glad. For his wife, my husband, and me who are saying good-bye to a dear friend, I feel this load of sadness that just won’t stay still or be contained.
I know Jesus will carry our burdens and offer us his lighter yoke (Matthew 11:30). I’m relying on that promise right now because unlike Atlas, I cannot shrug this off. It hasn’t slipped past me either that since the diagnosis the Lord has been heaping grace on me. He is strengthening the roots of my faith, knowing a storm is imminent. Although the hatches are battened down in preparation, this storm will be a tough one.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me (Psalm 23:4).
It is good to not be alone.
Copyright 2021 Merridith Frediani
Images (top to bottom): Canva Pro; Pixabay (2020); Canva Pro
About the Author
Merridith Frediani loves words and is delighted by good sentences. She also loves Lake Michigan, dahlias, the first sip of hot coffee in the morning, millennials, and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three kids. She writes for Catholic Mom, Ascension Press, Diocesan.com, and her local Catholic Herald. Her first book, Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Adoration, will be published by Our Sunday Visitor in August, 2021.